Here’s my closing argument.
If you haven’t already, here’s what you do on Tuesday, November 6: Vote. Vote. Vote.
If you’re eligible to vote and don’t, I’ll arrange to have an earworm transmitted into your skull that plays nothing but Justin Bieber singing “What Do You Mean?” 24/7. Don’t make me go there.
Or, in the far classier, more eloquent words of congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, “During another period people waited in immovable lines, faced billy clubs and cattle prods, in order to register and vote. Have courage, raw courage, and let nothing stop you from exercising your right to vote in this election. Do your part. Vote.”
Vote on the issues that are important to you: health care, education, the environment, women’s reproductive rights, student loans, etc. Vote locally for local candidates you trust on issues that affect you, your family and community.
But also keep asking yourself, why should we continue to allow a know-nothing, narcissistic egomaniac free rein to destroy a democracy that once represented, in Abraham Lincoln’s famous words, “the last best hope of Earth?”
Because the economy is doing well? This shameless president is quick to take credit for what is, according to Forbes magazine, “just a continuation from Obama’s presidency.” Job growth has been steady for the last eight years.
And try selling that booming economy to those who are working two and three and four jobs to scratch out a living, the 41 million Americans in poverty, a third of them kids—or to the more than half a million homeless. As Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty, said in June, “In a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.”
Why would you vote to keep Trump unchecked? Because he and Republican candidates suddenly are promising that they’d never, cross their hearts, ever disallow people with pre-existing conditions from decent health care? That’s a lie; they’ve spent eight years trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act some seventy times and the Justice Department backs a Texas lawsuit that would overturn Obamacare’s protection of insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.
And lest we forget, should they hold onto their majorities in the House and Senate, the GOP leadership is openly talking about gutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the programs you’ve paid for throughout your working life. These reductions are to compensate for the trillion-dollar deficit they themselves created with their billions in beloved tax cuts for the rich. There’s even talk about cutting or eliminating the Federal minimum wage.
Or would you vote for Trump’s cohort because you think Democrats want unguarded open borders—another lie—or that marauding caravans of brown-skinned foreigners are going to sweep into the country laden with disease and explosive vests? Trump makes incendiary noises about voiding the 14thamendment to the Constitution and sending as many as 15,000 troops to the Mexican border, defending us against an imaginary, bogus enemy.
Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of STaff Colin Powell said, “I see no threat requiring this kind of deployment,” and he’s right. It’s a flim-flam charade that could cost taxpayers up to $10 million a day, a cynical political stunt steeped in resentment and hate.
“Barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight.” Trump honest-to-God said that on Saturday. Let that sink in for a moment. Land of the free and home of the brave.
He says such things even though the United States is a nation of immigrants, a society made up of people from every other country, Trump concocts a phony national emergency, rejects refugees, tears children from their families and places them in prisons, mocks other lands, and pledges to build a wall to keep people out of America.
His infamous wall will not be built; the wall is in his mind, the wall is in the minds of those of his followers who refuse to open their eyes and ears to comprehend the contributions and needs of the world around them. Such beliefs must be rejected. We must celebrate the opposite, the belief that openness and unity are the only paths to peace and freedom. You can take a stand with your vote.
This is a presidency built on indecency, amorality and falsehood. TheWashington Post‘s FactChecker database of his “tsunami of untruths” has now gone past 6,420: “[I]n the seven weeks leading up the midterm elections, the president made 1,419 false or misleading claims—an average of 30 a day.”
According to Peter Baker and Linda Qiu of The New York Times, it is “a litany of misleading statements and falsehoods that exaggerate even legitimate accomplishments and distort opponents’ views beyond the typical bounds of political spin. In the past couple of weeks alone, the president has spoken of riots that have not happened, claimed deals that have not been reached, cited jobs that have not been created and spun dark conspiracies that have no apparent basis in reality. He has pulled figures seemingly out of thin air, rewritten history and contradicted his own past comments.”
Domestically, Trump has resorted not only to lies but to paranoid politics, fear-mongering and racism aimed at diverting attention from the hollowness of his programs. There is no national emergency; the “American carnage” he decried in his inaugural address comes instead from a weaponized extreme right he urges on as he simultaneously attacks the nation’s free press as an enemy of the people. He’s deeply afraid of what reporters uncover about his rule on what seems like an hourly basis: corruption run amok, nepotism, deep deregulation, injustice, his failure to cope with infrastructure or gun violence or schools or veterans or pretty much anything of substance.
As for overseas, it’s true that it’s a difficult world out there but our president makes it far worse with his zero-sum, it’s-not-enough-for-me-to-win, everyone-else-has-to-lose philosophy. He has embraced dictators in a bear hug, declared America First while encouraging rabid nationalism in other countries, fostered an inchoate trade policy and rejected global cooperation.
His lack of historical knowledge and refusal to learn the lessons of the world are deadly dangerous. When news came out that he refused to give up a mobile phone that is being hacked regularly by the Chinese and others, perhaps even more disturbing was that some aides were unperturbed, “because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.”
Today will be our chance, on a nationwide basis, to steer our—our—country away from a further descent into madness, to throw a roadblock in front of a lying would-be tyrant, to set boundaries, to force oversight. And we must vote not only for the representatives who will challenge his policies and investigate his scheming in Washington but for the state officials and legislators who will press for reform, change voting laws and oversee redistricting after the 2020 census that will combat the plague of gerrymandering that has given the GOP disproportionate power in the House of Representatives.
As Abraham Lincoln said in 1862, “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
Vote. Vote. Vote.
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Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer forMoyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship.